Where do the happiest people in America live? According to a new study by WalletHub, the answer is Fremont, California. The city scored highest overall in WalletHub's study of 182 U.S. metros, ranking emotional and physical well-being with income, community, and environment.
The study looked at numerous factors affecting life among residents, from money and relationships to sports participation and quality sleep. Fremont is where couples are least likely to separate or divorce. According to the survey, Freemonters are three times as likely to stay together as residents of Detroit. The Motor City finished last in terms of couples staying together.
Bismarck, North Dakota; San Jose, California; Pearl City, Hawaii; and Plano, Texas, rounded out the five cities with the happiest residents. San Jose also recently turned up at number four on Realtor.com's breakdown of the 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets for February 2018, but since it's the only crossover between those two lists, apparently there's more to happiness than skyrocketing home values alone.
The WalletHub rankings suggest a healthy relationship is a strong key to happiness, considering that three of the top five happiest U.S. cities—Fremont, Plano, and Pearl City—are also in the top five cities with the lowest separation and divorce rates.
For Plano residents, happiness might have more to do with loving their jobs. The city placed 176th (a tie with Cheyenne) for metros with the highest work hours. Interestingly, while Plano residents work a lot but are overall happy, Cheyenne residents suffer the fourth-highest suicide rate of the cities studied.
On the other side of Texas, El Paso ranked first (tied with Port St. Lucie, Florida) as the city with the lowest rates of depression. Laredo, in South Texas, however, recorded the lowest suicide rates in the country. The other top cities least likely to be depressed or turn to suicide were Washington, D.C., and three cities in New York and New Jersey. Most likely to suffer depression was Salem, Oregon.
Nine of the 10 least happy cities overall were in the Rust Belt and Deep South. Detroit finished last among happiest U.S. cities, followed by Birmingham, Alabama; Huntington, West Virginia; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The only Northeastern city near the bottom of the list in happiness was Wilmington, Delaware.
Residents of Huntington also suffer the third-highest depression rates, while residents of Birmingham and Detroit get the least amounts of adequate sleep. In the converse of happiest places and their relationship stability, three of the seven lowest-ranking cities—Detroit, Wilmington, and Birmingham—also had the highest separation and divorce rates.